Someone forwarded us a copy of Marc Myers’ June 6 interview with 71-year-old singer/songwriter/mind-altering-substance abuser David Crosby. Boomers know him as a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and as being in the center of 1970s rock ‘n roll. In the interview, Crosby, a proud ‘bad boy’ recounts his sailing history and how important sailing is to him. He got his start at age 11 on an eight-foot dinghy in Santa Barbara as his parents were hoping to get him into "something besides trouble." He broke the rules by sailing beyond the limits, as might be expected, and was kicked out of the program, just as he was kicked out of several schools. He describes himself as a natural sailor who didn’t need to be told what to do, and singlehanding the little boat as a "transforming experience."
It was 15 years later, after co-founding The Byrds, that Crosby got back into sailing. After being thrown out of the band, he borrowed $25,000 from Peter Tork of The Monkees to purchase the 74-ft John Alden schooner Mayan. Within a year, he became a full-time live aboard in San Francisco, which lasted for a couple of years. The wooden schooner, he says, became his muse and was the inspiration for, you guessed it, ‘Wooden Ships’ and other famous Crosby compositions. He claims that over the years everyone who is anyone in rock ‘n roll was aboard. For his reputation as a world class party animal, Crosby says that partying is "pallid" when compared to sailing. After 1970, Mayan spent much of her time in Santa Barbara, a winch handle’s throw from Brophy’s Seafood Restaurant.
It’s a little hard to believe, but Crosby says that while he, his wife Jan and son Django go sailing every chance they can, he hasn’t been able to keep up with the boat’s mortgage and other expenses. Although Mayan‘s been on the market for years, Crosby says his wife would "break his arm" if he sold the boat.
Crosby, who admits to suffering from hepatitis C, diabetes and heart disease, says he figures he’s got 10 years left, and has one big dream. It’s one more tour with Stills, Nash and Young, which would give him enough money to go sailing again. "And I’d be happy," he says.